Hannah_Flash2© Copyright – 2015 – Athletics Illustrated

Amongst a deep field of international athletes at the 2015 Ottawa Race Weekend, Canadians performed very well in both the 10K as well as the marathon, including a very good marathon debut by Toronto’s Rachel Hannah. There was also an exciting 10K duel between two of the nation’s top distance women in Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak and London’s Lanni Marchant. Two of Canada’s faster distance men also performed very well as Eric Gillis of Guelph and Kelly Wiebe of Vancouver finished in 28:57.2 and 29:07.60, respectively. Toronto’s Matt Loiselle finished as third Canadian in the time of 30:26.1. The 10K was the national road championship race.

Marchant, Canada’s record holder in both the marathon and half-marathon distances (2:28:00 and 1:10:47), took a run at the Canadian 10K championships knowing she was up against Wodak who is the record holder in the 8K (25:28) and 10,000m (31:41.59.) events. Marchant prevailed.

At the Payton Jordan Invitational on May 2nd this year, they both raced hard seeking the qualification standards for the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships and 2016 Rio Olympic Games. By running the first and second fastest 10,000m times in Canada during the qualification period, they secured their two spots for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games, unless of course someone else comes along and races faster during the qualification window. This is doubtful, as Wodak broke the Canadian record at Payton with her 31:41.59 performance and Marchant, nearly did the same running a personal best 31:46.94. The record was previously held by Courtney Babcock at 31:44.74 from 2003.

The World championships standard is 32:00, while the Olympic standard is 32:15.

Hannah was also in that May 2nd race. She has been improving as of late and demonstrated so by winning the 2014 Canadian Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, BC, on November 29th. But cross country isn’t track and Wodak, who finished third, was coming back from injury at that time. But still, Hannah has been performing well, including setting a new personal best behind Wodak and Marchant at Payton Jordan with her 32:36.17; her first race back after the World cross country championships.

There were signs of improvement before national cross as during 2014, she set personal bests in the 5,000m distance with a 15:50.32, then a road 5K in 15:58, followed by some strong 10K races in Toronto, including a 33:08, a 10 mile race in 55:00 and a half-marathon in 1:13:38, but May 2nd was her best performance to date.

Asked about her Payton Jordan experience she said, “The Payton Jordan 10,000m went well with my new PB of 32:36. It was my first race back after taking some recovery after World XC and the winter season. I had been building my long runs through the winter and knew my endurance was there.”

Hannah had improved her World cross country placing from 2013, where she finished in 58th position, to 25th in the March 2015 event that took place in Guiyang, China; two positions ahead of teammate, Wodak. The 2015 Worlds happened in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Hannah said, “I am very happy with my race (in Ottawa) and I feel I made the right decision on the timing of my debut.”

Getting a first marathon right is often a tough thing to do, but her 2:33:29.70 performance, according to the IAAF scoring tables, reflects her 10,000m time from Payton Jordan. She split half-way in 1:16:28 – a slightly positive split.

“Going into Ottawa I was aiming to run 2:34:00 and have a positive first experience at the distance,” shared the 28-year-old, when asked about her marathon goals.

“….The crowd support all along the course was electrifying, especially when approaching the final stretch.”

When asked about the marathon experience, she said, “I felt quite comfortable leading up to about 25K and had a good rhythm going the whole race. There was a short time period where I started to experience some gastrointestinal distress. Luckily this passed and I was able to get right back on pace after a couple of kilometres that were slightly off pace. I dropped a couple of my bottles and had to go back to pick them up since it was essential to get the E-load in for proper hydration and fuel. I clearly need a bit more practice with drinking on the fly!

I felt really strong as I went through the 35K mark and as I started to see some women ahead in the last few kilometres it gave me that last boost of energy I needed to finish with my fastest km of the race. The crowd support all along the course was electrifying, especially when approaching the final stretch.”

Hannah will run another marathon, perhaps this summer in a championship style race. She added, “I enjoy running long tempos. I will continue though (to race) at a range of distances of road, track and cross country as it keeps it exciting and helps to get stronger in varied and adapted ways,” she added.

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